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December 21, 2017 – Solstice turns at the Pass

Winter solstice looked like the last chance for powder turns in a year that started out with much promise but was quickly turning into a winter to forget, so Joe and I made plans to head to the Pass to take full advantage of the fresh snow.  We met at Pleasant Hill and made the short drive up 58 to the Pass, where we were greeted with blue skies and about a foot of fresh cold smoke.

Snow Zone

We quickly donned skins and headed up.  An added bonus was that the pass had made a couple of passes with the snow cat, so we didn’t have to break trail.  The views along the skin track are always nice, and the view back towards Mt Yoran to the south was no exception…

Mt Yoran in the distance

We soon worked our way to Eagles, and were a bit surprised at the coverage.  While it was covered in new snow, it was quite a bit thinner than when I was there last in mid-November.  Nevertheless, we pushed onward and upward…

Skinning up Eagle’s

When we got to the top of Peak 2, the snow stake read 32 inches.  Northern looked pretty good, so we decided to give ‘er a go.  I dropped in first, and set up to shoot a few shots of Joe ripping the pow in the sunshine…

Joe dropping in

The turns were excellent, and we ripped the run to the bottom and skinned back up for another lap.  This time, we decided to check out June’s Run, where I found three nice big rocks,  The turns were decent, but the skiing a bit more tentative than our first lap, so we decided to get another run in on Northern.  At the top, we took a break for some food and beverage, and greeted Laurie as she skinned up.  After a brief chat, we dropped in for our third run of the day.  This time Joe grabbed the camera and snapped a few photos of me getting some of the goods…

Solstice pow turns

Matt getting some whiteroom action

That second run on Northern was probably the best run of the day, and the smile on my face in the photo below says all that needs to be said about how it felt….

More cold smoke

At the bottom, we made the decision to head back up for one more lap before heading back to the front.  Skinning up, I snapped a few pictures of Laurie skinning below…

Laurie heading up

Our final lap on the backside was on Escalator, and the turns didn’t disappoint.  I had the camera, and snapped several pics of Joe ripping the pow, including a couple of shots shown below….

Joe enjoying solstice turns

Turns on Escalator

With our fourth run in the books, we headed over to the front to hang out at the top of EPA for awhile, enjoying the views and a frosty cold beverage.  The sun was intensely warm for winter solstice, and the snow in the direct sunlight on the south exposures was actually melting.

Oakshire IPA in the sunlight

Looking out over Lakeview Peak and Odell Lake

We made the decision to head down and ski RTS for our exit back to the truck, which was probably a mistake in retrospect, but whatever.  There were a few trees showing, but we wanted to check out the work of Dan and Kevin at the bottom of the run since they’d done some saw work the week previous.  As the photo below shows, the run was clearly ready to open to the public:)

“Skiing” RTS

The bottom of the run skied decent, and for how bad RTS was overall, our line choice was redeemed when we skied Rough Cut to the base.  The turns down Rough Cut were pretty choice, and when we got back to the truck we both agreed it was a pretty good day of solstice turns at the Pass.  Until next time…let it snow!

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November 10, 2017 – Willamette Pass

The forecast looked so-so, but wanting to get our November turns in, Dan and I made plans to head up to the Pass for a day of turns.  Our hope was the weather would be cold enough that it wouldn’t be raining, and we might even score some decent snow.  As we pulled into park, it looked like a few inches of wet, fresh snow had fallen on the lower mountain.  We wasted little time getting going, and soon were skinning up the road among the tall trees near the base…

Dan headed up

By the time we arrived at Eagle’s, there was about 3-4 inches of new snow, and the run appeared to have better coverage than when we skied it earlier in October.

Heading up Eagle’s

Given the snow conditions, our objective was Peak 2, and we skinned over to check things out. The snow stake read 24 inches, and we decided to give Northern a try for our first run.

Standing on top of Peak 2

Peak 2 and an IPA

I dropped in first, and the snow was smooth and felt great underfoot.  It was definitely on the heavy side, but we weren’t going to complain.  Dan came down after me, and I grabbed a couple of shots before we worked our way through the maze of trees on the second half of the run…

Upper Northern

Once at the bottom, we set a skin track up Escalator and worked our way to the top for a quick break and brew.  Donny and Althea were up top when we arrived, working on ironing out a few lift issues to get ready for the upcoming season.

Looking out from the top shack

For our second run, we cruised down upper Boundary, which held good snow and a variety of fun bumps to boost off of, and then onto Destiny for a bit of steeper fun.

Matt playing on Destiny

Looking back up

After milking turns down to the bottom again, we skinned back to the top of Peak 2 for one more run down upper Boundary before heading over to EPA for a final run down the front.

Dan approaching EPA

Sitting atop EPA, the thick clouds lifted a bit, and we enjoyed some nice views while enjoying a cold beer.  A few minutes later, we strapped in and readied to head out.

Dan enjoying a cold one

Matt atop EPA

Although we were temped to ride Timburr or High Lead, we opted to try Good Time and see how it was.  The turns up top were nice, and the coverage was excellent.  After a couple hundred feet, we traversed through the trees and over to Eagle’s, as the rest of Charlie didn’t look so nice…

Dan skiing upper Charlie

Cruising above Odell

The turns down Eagle’s were nice and smooth.  Below that was another story — it had warmed up considerably, and it was a slow, wet slide down to the base area.  Once down, we enjoyed some pickled salmon and chips and salsa in the patrol room before heading out.

At the base after a good day

All in all, the day exceeded expectations, and both of us were happy to get November turns in the books.  Hopefully it won’t be long until the area is open and the season gets underway in full force!  Here’s a parting shot from the day on upper Boundary….

Matt